Stage 20: Vuelta

Spanish hero Alberto Contador ends career in style with victory on Angliru on stage 20 of the Vuelta, Froome seals the overall win

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Stage 20: Vuelta

Spanish hero Alberto Contador produced a final career-ending flourish with a trademark solo attack to triumph atop the Angliru on Vuelta a España Stage 20, as Team Sky’s Chris Froome secured a Tour-Vuelta double in 2017.

Contador powered up the iconic Angliru ascent, roared on by huge crowds braving wind and rain to see him in action one last time. Froome finished third, 17 seconds behind the stage winner Contador, to secure a first Vuelta title. Froome’s team-mate Wout Poels was second and climbed to sixth in GC.

Vincenzo Nibali (Team Bahrain-Merida) lost time to Froome but will finish second overall, 2’15” back, with Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha Alpecin) third at 2’51”.

Trek-Segafredo had done a huge amount of work throughout a punishing 117.5km race – featuring two category-one climbs and the ‘Especiale’ final climb of Angliru – to set up their team leader Contador, with Jarlinson Pantano the last domestique to fall away.

Known throughout his long career for his attacking style, the home favourite dropped co-leader and compatriot Marc Soler (Movistar Team) with 5.5km to go on the brutally steep final climb, and danced on his pedals all the way to the top.
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Steven Kruijiswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) mounted a spirited chase before he was overtaken by Sky duo Froome and Poels, plus Zakarin, Franco Pellizotti and Nibali. Before that Soler had attacked solo from the lead group on the penultimate climb, but crashed on the soaking wet descent, allowing Tomasz Marczyński (Lotto Soudal) to lead the race on to the lower Angliru slopes.

Soler got back into the group of favourites – and soon went out in front with Contador – but finally cracked under pressure from the veteran, after which Contador was not to be caught.

The pace from the start of the stage was frantic and a potent escape group had formed with Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates), Enric Mas (Quick Step) and Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) among those dreaming of a prestigious stage win. But Trek-Segafredo never let the break’s advantage above 1’30” – and their efforts paid off as Contador signed off in style.

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Contador said: “The truth is it has been a very, very special day. I think it’s very difficult to say good bye in a better way than this, in this place, in this event. In the end, it’s a full stop at the end of a career in which I have done everything I wanted. I think it’s been a beautiful Vuelta even though I am not on the podium.”

“But perhaps if I had been in contention for the overall podium I would have ridden in a different way, more conservative, and instead I have ridden the race I have ridden – I look at the photos, and almost every day there are pictures of me alone because I have been on the attack.”

“I knew it was going to be a very special day, the road full of people and everyone watching the stage, and I set the goal for myself of winning on the Angliru,” continued Contador. “This morning I wanted to win, and when I crossed the line, I thought to myself: goal completed.”

“In the end, we couldn’t take the podium, but this is not what’s important,” added Contador. “What’s important is to take the victory of the stage and finish with this result for the rest of my life.”

“I spoke with teammates ahead yesterday and said that tomorrow could be one day for the history. They gave 100% to control the first part of the race. All the riders helped me, and especially Pantano for the descent of the Cordal. We started the Angliru with some seconds to the rivals, and then I knew it was my time and I needed to give the maximum until the top and try to win,” explained Contador.

“Today’s attack was different because it was an attack on the descent. It’s unusual in the history of cycling for this on a dangerous descent, but Jarlinson attacked, and I went with him,” he added.

“I have been able to enjoy the affection of all the people who say thank you to me. It’s been a remarkable month, unforgettable,” ended Contador. “I think in the future it’ll be remembered that in my last day of competition, I finished it with a win.”

Chris Froome (Team Sky), “It’s an absolute incredible feeling, and what a way to end such a massive three weeks of racing, having completed the Tour-Vuelta double that’s an amazing feeling. Thanks to everyone for all of the support for the last few weeks. It was such a tough climb, we did everything we could to try and catch Alberto and my congratulations to him, to finish his career like this is beautiful. It’s been an incredible experience. Probably one of the hardest Grand Tour I’ve ridden, if not the hardest.”

Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) (best young rider) “The truth is it was a difficult stage. Rain, cold, dangerous downhills. I lost a little bit my bike handling in the first downhill, La Cobertoria, and then I was quite scared. I didn’t want to go down”.

“I was a bit behind when we tackled the Cordal and it was impossible to get back to the group ahead. I went at my own pace and I had to do the whole descent from Cordal and the climb up the Angliru absolutely by myself.”

Ilnur Zakarin (3rd on GC): “It is still hard to believe. This is a miracle. In the last 3k of the race, I knew I had to do something but there was no real plan. I really gave it everything I have in my body. I have never gone so deep. It was a little bit tricky as I was afraid I would burn myself out”.

“Anyway, I gave my maximum and it worked. I am so happy,” said team leader Ilnur Zakarin. Kelderman came close at one moment but I never really looked behind as Contador was in front. With this situation I had to give it my all. In the end I had no idea where Kelderman was, but that did not matter as I was busy with Contador,” added Zakarin.

“Now a podium in a Grand Tour. I am very happy. I think in the next three years I can aim higher. Why not try for a win next year? This is a big result for the entire team. I dedicate this podium to my father and mother-in-law who recently died. I am sure they watched my success,” concluded Ilnur Zakarin.

Vincenzo Nibali: “It’s a shame for the sliding on the bend. It was raining and the road was dirty and slippery. Until then we did a great race but then I had to defend myself on last climb. I’m glad I was able to defend my second place”.

“My teammates have done a wonderful job – adds the Italian champion – but I must thank Franco Pellizotti in particular. Without him and with the strong pain on my left side I do not know if I would arrive with the best at the finish line at the top of Angliru. ”
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1. Alberto Contador Trek – Segafredo
2. Wout Poels Team Sky 0:17
3. Chris Froome Team Sky
4. Ilnur Zakarin Team Katusha – Alpecin 0:35
5. Franco Pellizotti Bahrain Merida 0:51
6. Vincenzo Nibali Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team
7. Steven Kruijswijk Team LottoNL-Jumbo
8. Wilco Kelderman Team Sunweb 1:11
9. Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale 1:25
10. Michael Woods Cannondale-Drapac 1:36

14. Tejay van Garderen BMC Racing Team 3:43
15. Louis Meintjes UAE Team Emirates 3:56
16. Miguel López Astana Pro Team
20. Simon Yates ORICA-Scott 4:18
21. Esteban Chaves ORICA-Scott 4:48
27. Nicolas Roche BMC Racing Team 7:05
52. Adam Yates ORICA-Scott 13:11
59. Luis Leon Sanchez Astana Pro Team 15:07
60. Fabio Aru Astana Pro Team
61. Anthony Perez Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
99. Mark Christian Aqua Blue Sport 21:37
137. Tom Scully Cannondale-Drapac 25:56
144. Conor Dunne Aqua Blue Sport 26:27
146. Ian Stannard Team Sky 26:29
158. Adam Blythe Aqua Blue Sport 26:48

Overall
1. Chris Froome Team Sky2079:23:37
2. Vincenzo Nibali Bahrain Merida 2:15
3. Ilnur Zakarin Team Katusha – Alpecin 2:51
4. Alberto Contador Trek – Segafredo 3:11
5. Wilco Kelderman Team Sunweb 3:15
6. Wout Poels Team Sky 6:45
7. Michael Woods Cannondale-Drapac 8:16
8. Miguel López Astana Pro Team 8:59
9. Steven Kruijswijk Team LottoNL-Jumbo 11:04
10. Tejay van Garderen BMC Racing Team 15:36
11. Esteban Chaves ORICA-Scott 16:32
12. Louis Meintjes UAE Team Emirates 17:15
13. Fabio Aru Astana Pro Team 21:27
14. Nicolas Roche BMC Racing Team 21:46
15. Sergio Pardilla Caja Rural – Seguros RGA 22:45
16. Mikel Nieve Team Sky 27:16
17. Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale 31:07
18. Daniel Moreno Movistar Team 42:02
19. Sander Armée Lotto Soudal 58:47
20. Darwin Atapuma UAE Team Emirates 1:02:44

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